Grandparents, grandkids and the support of technology  15



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Do you believe it is important for your grandchildren to learn about and participate in technology? It is an interesting debate.

On one side you have the parents and grandparents who love the idea of children learning from outdoor experiences and person-to-person moments. They remember vividly their own childhoods and wish for their grandchildren to be able to live a youth of innocence and tactile joy.

On the other side you have the believers in technology, evolution and change, those that think that this new generation of children will be part of a technologically futuristic era so we had better equip them early with the skills and capability they will require.

Which are you?

My parents sit in the second camp. In fact I must admit, they can be, at times, more progressive than people at my age of 40.

For years and years they have encouraged all their grandkids to be avid and enthusiastic explorers of technology. When the iPad 2.0 was released, they bought each of their 8 grandkids one for Christmas, much to the surprise of all. And they have been known to arrive with devices of other kinds too.

We looked at them when the iPads arrived, wondering what their motive was for doing so and my sixty-something dad announced that he believed that every child today needs to think about their lives in a very futuristic sense embracing the technologies available to them from a very early age so they can process in “new generation” ways.

It might sounds very lavish, and at the time it certainly felt so, but what they did back then for a group of children aged from 2-12 potentially changed their lives and helped them form flexible and tech-driven ways of learning.

When their grandparents gave them a tool on which they could learn, explore and communicate every hour of the day they also gave them permission to think differently to any of the grown-ups in the house. They gave them permission to explore how technology fit in with being a kid. And the kids responded with gusto.

It has been an amazing turning point for our family, and one which has moulded many other decisions about how we introduce technology to the youngsters in our life. We are highly progressive, as you would likely imagine if you have come to know me through Starts at 60. We believe that every child’s opportunities in life will come from exposing them to different thoughts and ideas that they might choose to learn from and embrace.

In contrast, a couple of years ago, my daughter’s year three class was handing out iPads to the students and invited all the parents in to a learning night. It was confronting to me to understand that there was parents who were outright afraid or uncomfortable about how to manage their child having free access to an ipad in and out of school.

One asked “If I don’t want my child using the iPad can I leave it at school?,” to which they were told a firm “no”. The event descended into quite an unhappy discussion about how parents were worried about their children knowing more about the technology than they know about how to manage it.

Now from where I sit, that is just technology and life. People like myself, at 40, have to admit that there are times when the younger people will know more and embrace it. There are times that I call my kids to help on a technical task for Starts at 60 even!

But it is demonstrative of the wide array of societal change that we have to understand and believe is beneficial to embrace technology at an early age for our youngsters.

I must admit having an ulterior motive from time to time, and I think my dad, the instigator of the iPads enjoys the same joy. We love it when technology offers a little occasional reprieve, and welcome it at the end of a dinner out at that time when kids get restless and want to go home, enabling us to stay peacefully a few minutes longer together.

Technology – do you believe it is important or are you uncomfortable with it in your grandchildrens’ lives?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Unfortunately technology is a thing of the future that we need to embrace, all I would really want for my grandchildren is for them to be healthy and happy in which ever way they choose to go and explore

  2. The so-called “digital natives” are more “digital naives” left alone with technology. They need our experience and guidance to embrace new technologies safely and make sense of the overload and velocity of today’s information.

  3. We cannot hold our uoung folk back.There has always been Technology. First Radio then TV then computers and now Ipads mobile phones etv
    I wasn’t allowed to watch TV . So socially at school. at school I had very little in common with the other kids in the play ground who discused programes Serials I became an alien in my school days.
    Even then you were on the outer if you didn’t know what was on TV. Certainly I had my ballet but I had little fantacy.
    I was different.
    Now I watch my children.
    Their technology is their communication skill.
    The had LAN parties wherevthey swapped ideas and learnt so much about technology.They would pull their computers apart with a more knowlegable person to help show them how to fix their computers. How to set thrm up how to make them talk to each other.
    Fascinating but beyond me.(we are still learning)
    One of my sons is niw working for a computer company that invents things. NOTHING IS IN S BOOK. THEY INVENT AS THEY GO.
    As our son says if it is in a book it is old technology and almost out of date.
    Technology is now used for developments in cars homes work etc studies into climate change wiyh many good ideas coming up.but we only need the technology to make the ideas work.I am sure it will happen. This new generation have learnt skills to inveny with thrir technology
    The other boy isvin a very different field. But technology has made his job so much easier.
    Look at our GPS . Now isn’t it do esdy to travel from AtoB anywhere in yhe world today. You set yhe GPS and some voice talks to you and takes yoi on your journey. Oh so much easier thsn the old Gregory’s.Maps.
    Cetsinly dome jobs are becoming obsolete but others are being
    invented everyday.
    Our childrens future world Dick.
    Tracey World use to be to us..Now Dick Traceys world is here with mobile phones etc. WHo ever would have thought we didn’t need a land line?
    Let your children plsy with Technology it is their future
    They will still enjoy pockers of our world.riding bikes Holidays in the country etc.
    We now have mschines to do oir dishes and clothes. No need to toil all is essirr in many ways because of new technoligies
    Remeber you only csn get on bad sites ifbuou have a credit csrd. Young folk rarely have a credit csrd. Maybe mums or dads. Technology is the future

  4. Moderation in every aspect of how they choose to do life. Finding a healthy balance between technology and actively exploring and playing in a God given universe. Knowing unconditional love from grandparents as well as their fur friends. Gaining wisdom in regards to the pitfalls of today’s technological revolution.

  5. My grandchildren are the responsibility of their parents. I am just here to love, enjoy and support them. I want them to be strong, caring, adaptable and happy.

  6. We have supported our grandkids “need” to have the latest devices also,and it has been a win win,as they are now our tech support group! We never had a conflict between tech and outdoors and the younger grandson has taught us the intricacies of Mine Craft and the thrill of a Mario Cart race,but he can’t wait to play outside and his imagination has no bounds as we chalk planets onto the concrete drive and warp off in our Tardis to save the world. I think we give them a fantastic start in life by encouraging the latest technology and as with all things,yes,there have to be boundaries set,like not going to bed with your iPad:-)

  7. Children should be exposed to technology as a learning devise NOT a baby sitter! Irritates me to see families out to restaurants and the children have their head in a devise. What happened to family interaction. Also they need a balance with outdoor activity playing an equal part.

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